Earlier in the week, we pulled together the emerging consensus from the Sofabet comments section on the effects of the phone lines being open from the start of the show. As annie and tpfkar posted in the comments as soon as the order was announced, it looked especially bad for District 3 – in the so far less-favoured second half of the show, and in annie’s words “the forgetable cucumber in the Ella and Jahmene sandwich”.
Producers could hardly have done more to keep first act Rylan clear of the bottom two – or at least off the very bottom, allowing the possibility of a singoff save. (Gary remained critical, suggesting it would be very awkward for him to save Rylan in a singoff versus District 3). He took “the Scherzinger” to Essex in a positive and enjoyable VT that should have helped to stir the regional vote. His performance managed to combine a passable opening vocal with an entertaining performance that should have delighted the demo.
“Delight the demo” – that is, a song choice that seems designed to motivate the act’s core target demographic – is, of course, a theory of Richard Betsfactor. If you’ve not read Richard’s fantastic guest post for Sofabet posted yesterday, do so here.
Also delighting the demo with their Taylor Swift song were Union J, who – as Stoney noted in the comments – received the same treatment in their VT as Little Mix had in the week after their breakout performance last year, with the hometown of each member flashed up on a map.
The VT also served to introduce the members as individual personalities – for Sporty Spice, read Jockey J (from whom we got a reference to struggling with weight issues – a slightly more leftfield parallel with Little Mix’s breakout week). We saw George could play guitar, they got a backdrop of fireworks and they exited to girls reaching out to them. It was all as clear an indication as you could wish for that producers are still invested in the group’s longevity in the show.
Next up was the man the Bitch Factor have christened Kye Sonezzzzzzzz. We’re starting to feel a little bit sorry for Kye, who is trying so hard to make it happen, but the performance felt dull and static, and as tpfkar noted in the comments there were pointed cutaways to Nicole looking bored. The awkward praise from Nicole, and the “you’re back” stuff from the other judges, was all very reminiscent of when Kye found himself in the bottom two in week 3.
James and Ella came next, receiving the benediction of No Doubt. Neither seem to be in much danger of departing tomorrow – or, most probably, at any time before the final. We remain impressed with James, and he got the weekly “recording artist” shoutout from Louis. Tulisa’s mention of his “album” reminded viewers that there would be one.
As in week 1, Ella didn’t hit all the notes, although only Nicole made reference to that. Otherwise we got the “little star” description again and shooting stars in the backdrop. We have to admit, her vocal style is starting to wear on us after five weeks of live shows, perhaps because she’s just not a particularly interesting performer. We weren’t totally surprised in the circumstances to see her drift in the win market continue.
District 3 got the mauling of the night. You knew they were in trouble when the VT made various mentions that they were school friends, but – in stark contrast to Union J – no reference to where they were from. They did get to meet No Doubt, but only to discuss what they couldn’t do well.
Worst of all for their young fanbase was the flirting with their backing dancers, both in the VT and in the performance itself. A certain amount of innocence is required to delight the demo and this seemed designed to put them off. The production and staging was very messy indeed, and judges comments couldn’t have been more damning.
Shoving District 3 down the memory hole was Jahmene, whose return to ASDA provided another hook for a hilarious Nicole VT. We wouldn’t have gone as far as Louis in praising Jahmene’s vocal, but the full-barrel “recording artist”, “millions of records” treatment left little doubt of the show’s intention to hype him to the final.
Daniel had wondered in his preview article which mid-80s song they’d saddle Chris Maloney with this week. It turned out to be a song that kind of averaged out at the mid-1980s, ‘All By Myself’ originally released in 1975 and most famously covered by Celine Dion in 1997.
You can continue to read the treatment of Chris Maloney in two ways – there were the obligatory cheese references in the VT, and the negative tabloid headlines got an airing. And coming after the much-hyped Jahmene brought to mind the “post-climactic” vibe that did for Melanie Masson from the pimp slot in week 2.
But on balance we thought this was pretty positive for Chris – he got a Liverpool shoutout, was shown referring to himself as the “public choice”, got a song that allowed him to belt out the money notes, and the controversy between the judges seem designed to motivate votes, in contrast to the non-motivational comments about Kye.
As the market indicates, District 3 and Kye look to be the most likely candidates for the singoff tomorrow. They certainly seem to be the two the show is hoping to get into that position. Should that happen, logic tells us producers should seize their chance to ditch Union J’s competition, especially as Kye would be easier to get away with saving against Rylan in a future week should they want to do so. Then again, we thought all that in week 2 and we were wrong.
How did you read tonight’s performances? As ever, do let us know below.